Stephen Harper, a 43-year-old politician from Calgary, became the leader of the newly formed right-wing Canadian Alliance in 2002. One year later, he managed to unite his party with the Progressive Conservative Party to form the Conservative Party of Canada. On January 23, 2006, Mr. Harper—against all odds—brought an end to 12 years of Liberal Party rule, becoming the 22nd prime minister of Canada.
Harper’s opponents accuse him of being a right-wing ideologue with a hidden agenda designed to roll back abortion rights, nullify Canada’s acceptance of “gay marriages,” join the war in Iraq, and override the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. None of this is likely to happen.
Harper’s Conservative Party won the election by a narrow margin, and he now finds himself the prime minister of a minority government. His party won 124 of the 308 seats in parliament and gained 36 percent of the total votes cast. The Liberal Party won 103 seats with 30 percent. The separatist Bloc Québécois won 51 seats; the socialist New Democratic Party, 29. Consequently, if he wishes to retain power, Harper must get the support of other parties in the House of Commons.
This should not be hard to do. Paul Martin, the Liberal leader, has stepped down, and the party now faces the difficult task of replacing him. The other parties will not be keen to bring the new government down. After two...